ROME – Less than a month after a man on New York’s “most wanted” list was arrested in St. Peter’s Square with three knives ahead of a papal audience, a parish priest from the Czech Republic was detained Sunday before the pontiff’s Angelus address after being found to have an air gun, two knives, a box cutter and a screwdriver in his bag.

According to media reports, the 59-year-old priest, identified as Father Milan Palkovic, who was wearing a cassock, claimed the items didn’t belong to him but to another man attending the Angelus, who was also detained, and that they were for “personal defense.”

The two men reportedly were part of a group of pilgrims from the Czech Republic who had arrived in Rome by bus.

A police spokesperson said the items have been confiscated, and an investigation is underway to determine why the two men wanted to bring them into the pope’s Angelus address. One theory is that the other man, aged 60, whose name has not been revealed, may have passed the bag to Palkovic, believing that his priestly garb would allow him to pass undisturbed.

In the meantime, the priest has been charged with illegal possession of weapons, an offense under Italian law which could carry a six-month jail sentence, which can be augmented if the possession took place at a public gathering.

The weapons were identified during a routine screening by the metal detectors though which visitors to St. Peter’s Square are required to pass, and the two men were detained around 9:00 a.m. Sunday morning, three hours before Pope Francis appeared at the window of the papal apartment to deliver his blessing and address.

According to police spokespersons, an initial background check indicates that neither Palkovich nor the other man have prior offenses on their records.

In an apparently unrelated incident, an Italian man was arrested with a replica pistol, capable only of firing blanks, outside Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major late Saturday night. The man had been flagged by witnesses who observed him yelling into a mobile phone, apparently during an argument with his fiancé, and then punching a wall with his fist.

The security breach on Sunday comes after an American man named Moises Tejada was detained by Italian police on April 10 in a bathroom just off St. Peter’s Square with three knives in his possession, which he apparently planned on carrying into Pope Francis’s regular Wednesday General Audience that day.

Tejada was on New York State’s “most wanted” list for violating parole after being released following a conviction for assault and battery of a real estate agent. According to media reports, Tejada told Italian police that he had arrived in Rome from Moldavia after having spent time in Ukraine fighting against the Russian invasion.

Tejada is currently being detained in Italy awaiting an extradition request from the United States.

It’s not known if Tejada had any intention of using the three knives to disrupt the audience or to threaten the pope.